Posts Tagged ‘travel’

After collecting my passport from HA on Tuesday, I then made copies of everything, got them certified (at the police station – pretty sure those guys are starting to recognise me…) and took them to Postnet to send off via DHL.
They said 2 to 3 working days – so most likely there on Wednesday the next week.
Super!
They said sometimes the Germans like to open document packages and “query” them… which takes about 2 weeks extra.
I blanched. The lady said “but that’s VERY seldom!” when she saw my face.

So, that was done.

And, thankfully, it arrived on Wednesday afternoon.
I *heart* DHL. I tracked it ALL the way to courier and delivery. I even know which one of my husband’s fellows signed for it.
Thank you Diaz!

The man could do nothing, as it is (yet another) 4 day weekend for them, and he was driving all day Thursday.
So he will begin all the processes to enroll me, on Tuesday this week coming.

It was a weight off my mind when I got the mail to say the documents had arrived.
It’s all a waiting game, but at last this one thing is done. One more step closer to my man. One more check list item with a tick next to it.
Ball is in his court now, and hopefully all the help he was offered by work will actually come through.
This part CAN take months – I hope it doesn’t, if his bosses step up and help, it shouldn’t.
Then I start the German process.
Not sure I can do that without my originals. They do require copies of everything, but they need my original passport etc.
I guess I can fill in the forms so long.

And get my international drivers license? Will that work with a certified copy of my new passport?
They only need verification – they don’t put the license in my passport or anything.
I’ll research that a bit more.

Will also do what my friend K did (the Princess) for the green card interviews.
She got hers recently – nice and smooth.
She said she read everything about it and had everything ready.
I want to be ready too.
I want everything to go smoothly and easily.
I’m tired of hitches and issues.
And “you can’t do this if you don’t do this”

It’s mentally draining. Emotionally tiring.

SO anyway… everything has begun… or.. _will_ begin on Tuesday next week!
I’m excited.
But also wary – I don’t want to get my hopes up.

But the Universe is behind me, I know this.
Just have to be positive. And believe that it will all be ok.

At least I can hear out my right ear again – thanks to Megs for the Waxsol suggestion.
Waxsol! Waxoff!

But I think it’s now infected my throat. Cos it is SORE.

Anyhoo.
Life goes on

and I love my husband so much.

Can’t wait to be with him.

There have been a few.

Updates too.

Firstly, we got another dog. Well my mum adopted her, and she will live with my mum, with my doggy Macky.

Her name is Mardi (as in Mardi Gras, as that is where she was found) and she is 9 years old. She was at TEARS for 2 years I believe, but had a home for 7 years before that. Unfortunately her owners emigrated, and made the decision not to take her with them.

She’s been with my mum for just over 2 weeks now, and she is more settled. The cats are fine – just Max is a little wary still, but no fights or chasing or anything like that. He just avoids her mostly and occasionally they will touch noses.

She is excellent on walks! On the lead or off, she is very responsive and behaved. She loves to meet new dogs, as long as they are smaller than her. I think that’s a kennel thing though. There’s no danger from a dog half your size.

She and Macky get along very well, mostly – they’ve had the occasional spat about personal space (Macky doesn’t know what that means, and tends to just walk over her if she’s in the way of being loved by a human) usually in my mums bedroom! But it’s just a “finding out who is top dog” thing, and it’s getting better.Luckily, Macky is such a sweety, he just goes with the flow. But he is definitely top dog and wants Mardi to know this.

Even more surprising was the bond that has developed between Mardi and my grumpy brother. Moment they met, it was love.

If he’s home – that’s where she will be, in his room. She would love to sleep in there at night, but he closes his door (he has limits!) so she sleeps outside his door.

She gets all excited when he comes home and he gets quite a goofy smile when talking about her to me or other people. Even if he is mock complaining about her cold nose in the small of his back when she wants attention while he’s at his computer. It’s wonderful to see. A crack in his armour. A little light shining in.

Other changes… *Thinks*

Oh! I moved out, finally. Sharing a gorgeous house with two other ladies. Although the one is leaving at the end of the month – she moves in with her boyfriend. All the best to her – sounds like it was about time 🙂

The owner of the place, says that perhaps some time next year, she might move in with her boyfriend, but she isn’t sure yet, so I mustn’t fret about losing my place.

It’s a really comfortable and relaxed house. We aren’t digsmates or besties – we just share the house and it’s our home. We are house mates, that’s it. So there’s no envy or “why didn’t you invite me?” moments, or jealousy or hitting on boyfriends. No silliness.

I feel really chilled when I get home. It’s finally feeling like “home” – instead of just another house sitting gig.

My mums home is now just Moms. It’s still home, and always will be, because I am always welcome there, but I feel more independent here. More myself. I can be quiet if I want to be. I can go for a run, or stay out, or stay in, wash my clothes when I want, eat what I want, make what I want, do what I want, watch what I want…. and all that good stuff. I have privacy. Not saying my mum was an invader – but I never quite felt “separated” from that knock on the door moment. I love my mum, and I think this is better for us too – I go home on weekends, to walk Macky and Mardi and to get things from the garage, and to have a little catch up chat with mum and say hi to my brother. It’s good.

Other updates:

June came and went – it was awesome, but as always, too short.

We traveled up the East Coast – all the way up to Addo Elephant Reserve. Always wanted to visit there, since I was little girl. So it was a dream come true for me, and an incredible experience for both of us. The road trip was pretty awesome too.

We stopped off in Knysna, and Jeffrey’s Bay (the Surf Mecca of South Africa, Africa even) and stayed at the very famous Super Tubes. Right on the beach. Was too cold to surf though (this is June! Southern Hemisphere!) so we will have to make a plan to go back in summer, some time.

Addo was incredible. So peaceful. Relaxed. We saw quite a variety of game – no Cheetah or Leopards though – and we drove from top to bottom of the park. We saw (many many many!) of the supposedly elusive Dung Beetle, and took loads of photos.

Too soon, my man was gone again – but I’ve had my fix and I can wait for quite a while to see him again. I’m content.

Work sucks. There are no better words.

Not the people I work directly with – I have made some wonderful friends there over the last year or so. Especially the last few months – Fahiem and Megan are such brilliant people, with big hearts and keen intellect. We’ve been teaching each other things. Too many things to explain. Life lessons, and language lessons and even “gams kawiely wams” and how it’s used in every day conversation.

I will miss them, when I leave at the end of the year. But I can at least keep in touch with them, and my other friends there, and not suffer through the drivel and idiocy of the OTHER sides of that place. I won’t go into detail. It’s not necessary and will just annoy me.

I’ve started learning other languages too – German, Arabic, Italian, Spanish and I’m brushing up on my French too.

I’ll need them if I want to work for the U.N! The letter I received from the head of the Translations department was eye-opening, but also very positive. That’s another life long dream of mine. It will take a lot of work, but it’s not impossible.

Nothing is impossible.

The old boys are doing a bit better now. Their feet are hardening and their energy levels have lifted to match. RIght now, Ex is having a little issue – but that’s my fault: I took him out a day after his feet were trimmed  (he was eager) and might have pushed him a little too far – I think he’s bruised his one sole.

So we are taking it gently now. He will come right, he has so far.

I love that horse.

Catch is doing very well – his feet are settling nicely. He is full of energy. A pity that Jamie can’t ride more though. That’s annoying. And difficult.

I become Elastagirl when I take them both out. They are both so stubborn and strong willed.

Oh and the Crow is finally finished!!

It looks BEAUTIFUL.

I attempted some shots on my own, and managed to at least show the whole tattoo.

Even with a timer, it’s bloody difficult to get a shot of a tattoo that size, in that location, on your own, with a ginormous DSLR like Bertha.

Thank goodness for boyfriend clothes. And the fact that i fit into his.
Early the next morning, we gathered our stuff (after another hot shower and a good breakfast downstairs) and i wore some of his clothes. We went back to the airport, to the lost baggage office.
I scanned the suitcases in the office and the ones outside in the security sections, but my ERS was nowhere.
I spoke to yet another person at the desk, and he said that Atlanta was having huge delays as an enormous storm was rolling in over this side of the country. I asked if they even knew where it was right now – it had not even been scanned in Atlanta.
I was, once again, furious. My ERS had made it all the way from the damn tip of AFRICA, through Frankfurt international, on to another plane, and all the way to Atlanta. And now it was lost in the domestic section. And they had NO IDEA where it was in the airport.
I got offered another breakfast voucher (woohoo.) and told that they could offer compensation up to a whopping $25 for my belongings. I asked if he was joking with me. He wasn't. Thankfully, the lady I had spoken to the previous evening arrived at that point and said that I just needed to keep any slips for clothing and gifts (she knew the whole story about my wedding gifts and clothes and Christmas presents being in that ERS) and I could (most likely) claim it back later.
I gave them all the details of where I would be for the next few days, and my eventual address in New Mexico. I had no cellphone number to give her, as my man's phone was from Germany, and we hadn't had a chance to buy a prepaid one in the States yet.
That wasn't high on our list of things to do. Well, it hadn't been until then.
We gave her the hotel number in Princeton and she promised to let us know as soon as it arrived. She said they would send it to the hotel, if it arrived during the next few days.
That was all we could do.

We then went to see about getting a car to hire, for the drive to Princeton. Luckily my man always takes his GPS with him! He's always prepared!
While hiring our car, the lady asked if we wanted 4X4 capability and we were going to say no, but then we were told that apparently that rather large storm that had closed Atlanta, was now heading this way and there would be snow for the next 3 days at least… so we hired a rather nice SUV with 4X4. It was rather snazzy, with satellite radio and i think it had seat warmers. But we didn't use them, as we were NOT cold (as i mentioned – when i'm around him, i generate heat enough to warm a small country) even with all the snow coming, it was not cold yet.

We began our drive down to Princeton – getting a little turned around in all the loops and turnpikes, at first, but finally finding a way out of there! – enjoying each others company, good music, and the sights and sounds of New Jersey.
I'd, obviously, never been there. My man had been there once when he was very young and didn't remember too much.
I can't say it's the prettiest place. In fact, it's a bit grey and ugly. Lots of factories and steam towers and chimneys belching grey smoke. And so many cars. No wonder people complain about the traffic in Jersey.
Luckily, we had pretty smooth sailing all the way down to Princeton – perhaps we just timed it right, as we were told this trip should take over an hour, possibly two, but it only took us just on 45 minutes I think.
People in Jersey drive like maniacs. Road rules? What road rules? Speed limits? Hah! They are just guidelines, apparently.
Well, the taxis in South Africa still outdo any bad drivers anywhere else in the world that I've been.

We made it down to Princeton, to the Hyatt Regency. A gorgeous 5 star hotel. That is luxury. We got there late afternoon and let the reception know about the lost luggage etc. They did warn us that there were loads of flight cancellations out of Atlanta, and that the storm was following us down the way. But they promised to let us know if it arrived while we were there.
First order of business – get me some clothes. I couldn't wear my mans boxers and tshirts to a wedding… much as i loved being in his clothes!
We went down to the closest mall. I discoverd the wonder that is TJ Maxx. It's pretty much like PeP or Ackermans here in .za. It looked like the storm had already hit here – clothes littered everywhere, hangers and shoes all over the place. There must have been a 5 minute sale or something just before we arrived! It was messy and chaotic.
I scrounged up and down the lines of clothes, looking for something smart and sophisticated. i found a lot of fake fur and leopard print. and pleather. and feathers. and bright pink.
My man saw my face and suggested we look elsewhere – this was not the only place around! (he reads me so well sometimes) I was nearly in tears, actually. It was all catching up with me. I had had great clothes in my suitcase, and all those gifts. and here i was just trying to find something "nice" and i had to meet all his friends and Army people for the first time, and everyone would be dressed up and looking beautiful and i was the scraggly girl from Africa. I just didn't want to show my face and make a bad first impression, and embarrass my man by being the Dull of the Ball.
  
So we went next door to another store… i forget the name of it right now… *thinks*
Oh yes! Ross's!
They had some really good clothes, for very reasonable prices. I picked up some Liz Claireborn pants, and a shiny grey top. And my man bought me these GORGEOUS black stilleto knee high boots.
So that was it for the wedding.
And some knickers and socks, and I was set.

 

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I forgot to mention the hat. I was also carrying one of my fedoras with me – well, wearing it, not carrying it, as i didn't want to scrunch it in my bag. My man asked me to bring it – he looks so damn good in it – so of course i complied.

So maybe i looked European, i don't know – but i was treated really politely by the German airport staff and security people – and they all immediately spoke German to me. Thankfully it was simple enough German that I usually understood what they were saying! So i nodded or shook my head – didn't say anything except Danke or Bitte. Compared to last time where they mostly ignored me, or pretended they didn't understand English, even on the plane, it was pretty cool. Maybe this time i was just not nervous (about meeting my man) so i paid more attention and looked more relaxed?
I guess i'm also more "well traveled" now. i'm still pretty OCD about things, but i'm not panicked or wide eyed and confused.

So i wore my hat, carried my big soft jacket, a plastic bag with the vuvuzela sticking up out of it (THAT got some weird looks from people, including security!) and my backpack. i trundled slowly to the departure gate. stood in the line to get my boarding pass there. got asked a lot of security questions by the Delta people. but they let me through and put the little red tags everywhere (including the plastic bag with the vuvuzela – after i explained what it was). i found a spot on a chair so i could watch the entry point to see when my man arrived. plonked my stuff down and tried to stay awake and aware. i hadn't slept on the plane, and i didn't sleep much the Tuesday night before either. i was tired. very tired.

about 40 minutes before boarding, i started to worry that he wasn't going to make it in time. but it seems Delta only board 20 minutes before. my heart sank as i thought i would have to face the flight to the US without him. and what would i do when i got to Atlanta? Would i have to rush to the next flight without him too?

but then i saw him being let through (with no fuss of course, if he flashed his military pass)  and my heart leapt and a stupid smile appeared on my face. nice jacket. wow. his belt in his hand as he'd just cleared security. he looked at me, but didn't see me and he made his way to a block of seats a few rows ahead of me.  i waited to see if he'd seen me, but he clearly hadn't. so i gathered all my crap up and carried it over to where he was.  a lady a few seats down watched us and i saw her smile when we hugged our hello.
i even got a kiss this time. my heart was pounding. i sometimes wonder if he notices that.
i got very warm too. when i'm with him – instant ignition of the inner furnace. he just has that effect on me.

he put his belt on and settled himself next to me. was so good to hold his hand and just _smell_ him and feel him near. everything was ok again.
he had lots of extra bits and pieces (a garment bag with his dress blues. *swoon*) and his backpack.
finally we boarded and settled ourselves in our seats – he let me have the window seat. such a gentleman.
it was a shorter flight than the one to Frankfurt – and made easier by having him there as company. We watched movies and he slept and i watched over him. I tried to sleep a bit too. but my neck got sore pretty fast. i'm not made for economy class! my lot in life.

We landed at Atlanta (with rumours of delays and a major storm coming in – but we didn't pay too much attention) and dashed off to get our luggage and recheck it. found my ERS, handed it over to the dude at the conveyer belts, made our way through the next security line (took about 20 minutes) and then on to the next flight (after finding our new gate) to Newark NJ. We walked to the other terminal just for fun and a chance to stretch our legs.

We boarded for the 5 hour flight to Newark and squished into the tiny seats, next to a large business man who overflowed into my seat. We were incredibly tired and stressed and we both tried to sleep. my legs were cramping and my back was aching, and my mans knees were killing him from being so folded up all the time.
And then we landed in Newark, and went down to get our baggage.
It was ICY cold in the airport and we stood there waiting. Out came my mans baggage, almost first on the carousel.
My ERS nowhere to be seen.
We waited and watched the luggage go around a few times. Checked the OTHER carousel. No luck.
So i went and stood in the long line at the baggage claim office.
Took me about 25 minutes to get to the front of the queue (bear in mind i have not slept in 2 days and i am now severely PISSED OFF) and i explained my situation, where the luggage came from, when i last saw it, described it in detail. Lady could not help much but said hang around a few more minutes (she meant 30.) for the final plane from Atlanta to come in and see if my luggage was not perhaps on that one.
We waited. We looked at the luggage that came in. Nada. Zip. Zilch. Zero.
So I went back to her. I explained that everything was in there including wedding clothes and gifts. She was sympathetic. she gave me a voucher for $14 for breakfast.
i was underwhelmed. another trend.

By this time i was on the point of tears i was so unbelievably tired, and incredibly angry. i don't like people seeing me cry, so i bit down on my savage words and took my claim number and left. My man was reeling where he was standing, he was also very tired. so we decided to check in to a local hotel for the night before embarking on our trip to Princeton as we could hardly keep our eyes open.
We called around and finally found a reasonably priced room at the Holiday Inn Express just down the road. (I like Holiday Inn Express)
We waited in the freezing cold (the icy air helped me cool my temper a bit) for the hotel shuttle and then packed in and drove to the hotel with everyone else.
Checking in took a few minutes and we went up to our room. threw down our stuff.
i'd been in the same clothes for 2 days and i felt really shitty.
we showered, felt better.

 and then we just fell on each other.
can't put it any other way.

i had waited and waited and i couldn't wait any more.

 

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Where to start? Um. the beginning I guess.
Worked Monday and Tuesday and woke early on Wednesday (a public holiday here in .za) to finish packing (I had actually done most of the present packing, and stuff for my man) my enormous red suitcase. it's enormous. seriously.
I was under the impression my weight limit for the flights would be 23kg. my enormous red suitcase (hereafter called ERS) managed to swallow everything with ease, but when I managed to wheel it over to the scale… it was 26kgs. bugger.
so i opened it up and made agonised decisions about what could stay and what could go. out went the (rather heavy) extra bits and bobs i got my man – i could mail those to him, they were not "gifts" per say, just added extras that i thought he would like. I was sad about that. Out went my other pair of jeans, and some tshirts. a jersey. socks. (and i love my socks.) and some underwear. (including the promised corset and matching underwear that i was meant to wear for my man… but oh well, another time) and some shoes.

weighed again… 24kgs. i said so what, i'll pay the extra. i couldn't justify taking anything else out. yes, his stuff took up most of the space, but he's worth it. every cent.

i put one of the weddings gifts in my backpack, along with my toothbrush and toothpaste, hairbrush and some facecream. and Bertha, of course. and a jersey, because apparently it was a bit chilly in the north 🙂
so we gathered all my bits and pieces up (i actually traveled pretty light this time, especially my backpack. it was great) and piled into the car (even my brother came along… *wide eyes*) and drove the 40 minutes to the airport.
I went straight away to the sign in desks – i didn't want to wait in line and i wasn't sure what would happen with my suitcase being overweight and all that.
Only one person in front of me and then i rolled up to the desk. A trainee on duty with her mentor watching carefully, i got told my bag would go all the way through to Atlanta, but I would have to recheck it there, as domestic luggage for the flight to Newark. I said that was great – not having to collect it in Germany would be a huge weight off my mind (no security checks or customs lines at least! even though i got the damn visa… grrr)
They also then said that my international flight allowance was 50kgs!! and TWO bags!! Arg! I was annoyed, but it was ok because i knew i could then at least buy stuff in the States and not worry about it being too much.
So all checked in, i grabbed my boarding pass and went to join my mum and brother.

We had our traditional farewell milkshake at the (newly opened) mugg&bean at the (newly redone) international departures terminal. Then they left and I went to through the customs lines and security checks. Good thing i went through early – while i was standing at my gate, i saw the loooooooooooong lines of impatient people zigzagging towards the departures area.

I bought my man a vuvuzela (he has asked me for one ever since reading about them in a soccer article) at the sports shop, and myself one of those travel pillows that wrap around your neck for inflight sleeping. that was the hope anyway – i struggle to sleep on planes.
I tried to read one of the books i brought with, but i guess the excitement finally sunk in… i paced and browsed the duty free – always looking for things to get my man and his family. chocolate? no, would melt before i got to him. another book? my backpack was getting pretty heavy and i had a long way to go… i had magazines and books for him. so just the vuvuzela then.

Finally, time to board. I was at the front of the line, with some German people on their way home from holidays in the beautiful Cape. They yammered away in German and i managed to catch _some_ of what they were saying.  The one lady must have thought i was German because she started talking to me and i let her finish and then said i only understood a little. she asked where i was going and why and i told her a little bit – meeting my boyfriend in Frankfurt and then flying to the USA. she said it was very cold in Germany right now. she said she'd never been to the US and wished me a wonderful holiday.
We boarded and i was pleased to find that Lufthansa fly Airbuses with two seats on either side and 4 in the middle. I got a window seat – first time ever, i think. i am over the panics that i used to get, so i thought i'd try the window out for a change and see if it made it easier to sleep.
a young blonde boy was my neighbour – he had that strange accent of a young German – i thought he was American at first. his name was Nicolas. we didn't speak much, but he fell asleep on my shoulder later on in the flight and while i desperately needed the loo, i didn't have the heart to wake him.
I was very annoyed – my tv monitor didn't work. no music, no movies, nothing. they reset it 3 times, with no luck. so i got a voucher from Lufthansa for duty free. woo.
it was the start of a trend.

flight was pretty boring. i read a bit (new Neil Gaiman book i got in the bookstore) and listened to my Zune. which made me think of my beautiful man. *sigh*
got restless. wiggled. tried to sleep.

some turbulence coming in to Germany, and a rather bumpy landing, but otherwise fine.

I waited till 99% of the people got off the plane before disembarking – couldn't be bothered to fight through the crowds and i knew i didn't have to go through customs, so i had time to get to my Delta flight. i also knew that my man wouldn't be there for at least an hour or more.

It was nice and cold walking to the terminal, but warm inside. i got some Dollars at the forex place. i still had Euros from the last trip, so i bought some tea and started the rather long walk to the departure area.

 

 
 

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Passport – check

US visa – check (10 years!! wooooooo!!)

German visa – check
Tickets – check
Travel insurance – check
New (BIG) suitcase – check
Long nails – check
Everything else – check
Now to make a list of things to buy as gifts, and what to take.
*sigh*
i'm excited – but not at the "I want to vomit I'm so excited" point, just yet.
Oh! And the the Tiger is finished!
All done, and signed.
Just waiting on the healing to make sure the white ink has gone in nicely.
He also fixed my white pony up 🙂

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went to get my passport and visa this morning, from the consulate…
EVENTUALLY found parking… reasonably far away, but i'm fine with walking – and it was lovely rainy weather, so everyone was inside…

took me 5 minutes in all…

AND they gave me 10 extra days on my visa and a multi entry one too…
which is ROCKIN…

but poses some financial issues…
obviously i want to stay longer with the boy… OBVIOUSLY!

but it means extended my medical insurance (a good extra R500 at least)
changing my ticket return date (another R500, which means R1000 altogether, because i've already changed it once)
adding extra days to my hotel booking (another 300 EUR)

so basically i'd have nothing to spend… and that would suck mightily…

i spoke to the boy when i called him just now – he said he "doesn't care" what i do… which is fine, means it's not a problem…

so.. it all stays the same…
and i still leave september 22nd and fly back october 7th…

still hasn't sunk in though…
i'm sure it will soon…

the boy said "why do you have such a sexy voice on the phone?"
he likes to surprise me with comments like that…

i love it.

*sigh*

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